Carrara – Curiosity – The strength of the wheel

Stemma Carrara

The Carrara community has always shown great attachment to the wheel. It appears as an architectural motif on the cathedral façade and at the bottom of one of the small Gothic windows around the building. The emblem appears, once again, in Piazza Alberica’s marble paving and it is also thought to be the inspiration behind the fountain in Piazza Gramsci.

The city’s coat of arms features a wheel with the eloquent wording “Fortitudo mea in rota” (Latin for “My force is in the wheel”). In search of an explanation for this choice of motto, we look to the local economy, which was heavily dependant on the marble mining industry. Blocks of marble would be moved for processing from the quarries to the plane and then to the sea for onward shipping.

Heavier blocks would be transported on large carts, pulled by 15-20 pairs of oxen – an arduous and risky mission. To support the weight and withstand the unevenness of the ground, very sturdy wheels would have to be used, often with iron casting.

These wheels have remained a symbol of the city’s strength and tenacity, qualities that have given Carrara its status as the marble capital of the world.

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